Airlines, NCAA meet over N20B debts settlement

*Carriers reconcile accounts
The Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Muhtar Usman today held a closed door meeting with airline operators under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).
The meeting  was to discuss the lingering crisis occasioned by humongous debts the carriers are alleged to owe various aviation agencies. The debts are said to b e in the region of over N20 billion.
At the meeting were Chairman of Arik, Sir Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, Managing Directors of Medview, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, Aero Contractors, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, President, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Noggie Meggison, Dana, Jacky Hathiramani, former Secretary-General of AON, Mohammed Joji among other airline operators.
A source, who was at the meeting told that the meeting focus largely on how to reconcile the debts as quickly as possible.
According to the source, “The DG NCAA met with the airlines on how they can reconcile their debts. They agreed to pay up within two weeks. Reconciliation is going on. I can’t tell you more until NCAA speak officially on the matter.”
There are indications that airlines operating in Nigeria owe the NCAA over N10 bn, a development which has made the agency to introduce and begin the enforcement of the pay-as-you-go measure on the carriers.
The pay-as-you-go system entails airlines showing the evidence of regular payments on current charges, as well as providing proofs of part settlements of their old debts before enjoying the services of the agency.
Some of the airlines allegedly owing include Arik Air, Dana Air, Aero Contractors Airlines, the moribund Chanchangi and IRS Airlines, among others.
This is as the propensity of government officials for chartered flights, as against the use of regular commercial flights for duty tours, is also said to have reduced considerably since the assumption of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Aside NCAA, the airlines also owe the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). For NAMA, the debts run into several billions of naira.
Cumulatively, the carrier’s debts is said to be over N20b.
Just last week when FAAN through the unions shut Arik, the airline chief accused FAAN of frustrating amicable resolution in spite of the fact that the airline had paid N18.9 billion, which he said was acknowledged by the agency in a letter sent to them.
He alleged that FAAN recently confirmed getting “a mysterious additional N7.5 billion in its account,” but insisted that the money didn’t come from Arik Air, despite its insistence that the large sum was from it.
Wole Shadare